Evolving Technologies in the Fight Against Fire and Smoke


Fire and smoke control measures can be active or passive and are ideally a combination of both. The goal of these systems is to stop the growth of a fire while also maintaining control of smoke’s movement throughout the building.

Many of today’s containment measures are enhanced by a Fire Service Control Station (FSCS), which serves as a master control panel for all the mitigation systems in a building. The FSCS allows first responders to manually activate or deactivate a building’s smoke and fire mitigation systems as they see fit. Smoke and fire curtains should be able to integrate with a building’s FSCS in order to support first responders in their efforts.

What is a Fire Service Control Station?

A firefighter’s smoke control station, which is part of the total fire and smoke control system, is a panel that provides visualization and control of all the operating components in a fire control system and their current status. The panel permits a firefighter to manually operate the fans, curtains and dampers in the area of the fire in order to gain more control before entering the affected area.

Most fire prevention systems activate automatically once sufficient smoke or heat is detected. However, through the use of a fire service control system, the firefighters can know which systems have fully deployed. This provides vital information that will allow them to activate additional systems if needed or retract curtains to allow for safe entry into the affected area.

Smoke Control Systems and Their Design Objectives

The Fire Service Control Station is part of an overall smoke control design. The control station design includes all methods that can be used singularly or in combination to modify smoke movement. There are basically two options: smoke containment and smoke removal. However, most fire protection systems will utilize both in order to provide the most effective protection.

The FCSC is the “brain” (control module) in the design and ensures that all actions happen in the correct sequence. In the event of a fire, dampers, doors and smoke curtains are all deployed before the fans are turned on to evacuate the smoke. If the fans were activated first, then the dampers and doors may not close — this would allow the system to pull in fresh air that would feed the fire instead of removing smoke.

Another advantage of an FSCS is that it can be used to designate zones within a building to allow all mitigation measures in that zone alone to operate at the same time. This provides the capability for first responders to contain an event before it spreads to the rest of the building. It also makes system testing easier, as only a portion of the equipment needs to be checked.


Smoke Containment

Smoke dampers and curtains are passive systems used to contain and stop the spread of smoke throughout a building. They effectively seal off affected rooms, protecting both people and items within the space. Smoke curtains can be utilized to seal windows, doors, hallways, elevator openings and other potential pathways that smoke can travel through.

Smoke Removal

Smoke removal is accomplished by fans and pressure differences between spaces to move the smoke to an unoccupied area where it can be removed. In a typical application, the smoke is directed to an area near the top of a building where it would naturally travel without mechanical assistance.

Passive and Active Design Systems

Containment and removal designs can be either active or passive. The passive design measures include walls, bulkheads, doors, partitions, high ceilings and fire-rated construction materials. Active measures would include fire extinguishers, pressurization systems, alarms that activate sprinkler systems and smoke and fire curtains that deploy when triggered.

Smoke and Fire Curtains Compatible with an FSCS

Elevator Shaft Protection

Elevator shafts provide access to all floors of a building. If these openings aren’t properly protected, then smoke can quickly fill every floor above the fire. Smoke Guard manufactures code-compliant custom elevator smoke curtains that work with already fire-rated doors to stop the spread of smoke and flame.


As soon as smoke is actively detected at the elevator opening, the curtain deploys from above the door and rolls to the floor. It is held tight to the outside frame of the elevator by magnets, which keeps the curtain in place but still allows a person to walk through when needed. After the danger is gone, the curtain automatically retracts back into its housing, ready for the next emergency.

Vertical Smoke and Fire Curtains

Closing off small and large openings in walls and hallways can be difficult due to the configuration of the opening. Smoke Guard has solved that problem with custom vertical curtains. They use a high-performance fabric with a two-hour fire rating that meets the standards of UL 1784 for smoke and draft control assemblies.

Large vertical openings can be protected with custom-designed curtains up to 60’ wide and 12’ tall. They also make window curtains that operate in a track, extending to cover the glass area when the fusible link is activated. These can be mounted either on top of the window or on the side, depending on the situation.


Horizontal Fire and Smoke Curtains

Most large commercial buildings will have an atrium area to provide sunlight for occupants. When these openings are located in the interior spaces, a horizontal fire and smoke curtain can be used in atria three stories and above, horizontal separations can be used to bisect the area and compartmentalize the space into two story compartments. Doing so can greatly reduce or eliminate altogether the requirement for mechanical smoke evacuation systems.

Perimeter Protection

A large stairwell opening can pose a problem for some fire assemblies. Smoke Guard’s perimeter curtain is a self-supporting system that doesn’t require corner support posts to operate. It can shield stairwells and escalators, or it can provide a path for smoke to move safely to the top of the building where it can be removed mechanically.


Smoke and Fire Curtains Augment an Effective Fire Safety System

Smoke and fire curtains create containment areas that hold or inhibit the spread of smoke and fire until it can be ventilated. Smoke Guard manufactures mitigation systems that are designed specifically for this purpose, and most of these are compatible with modern fire service control systems.

We are innovators in the fire and smoke protection industry, and we can suggest ways to make your building safer than code requires without adding substantially to the budget. Contact us today for details on how to better protect your existing building or to get a quote on a new construction project.